Ever since the 2008 financial crisis, we have seen restaurant chains closing their doors left and right. Multiple companies have filed for bankruptcy in recent years, with many more selling their companies in hopes of coming out of the business with some money in their pockets.
Unfortunately for us, that means some of our favorite go-to spots are leaving our towns and cities. Where are we supposed to go for a greasy burger and fries and an over-sized milkshake? Get your online petitions ready, because here is a list of some restaurant favorites that are starting to shut their doors.
Sbarro, The Italian Eatery You Know Because Of The Mall
Sbarro is probably one of the storefronts at the food court of your local mall. The restaurant was founded in 1956 in Brooklyn, which makes sense since it’s an Italian joint! The chain is also wildly popular on college campuses, giving students a way to grab a quick bite on the way to class.
The “Fresh Italian Cooking” restaurant has several locations, but its headquarters are in Columbus, Ohio. It might have been beneficial to keep the Italian restaurant’s base in New York because, in 2014, it was announced that the chain was going to be making several closures through 2020.
Carrabba’s Italian Grill Should Have Gone With The Endless Salad & Breadsticks
Carrabba’s Italian Grill was founded in 1986 as a family restaurant. Opening its first location in Houston, Texas, the restaurant took off and ended up merging with Outback Steakhouse, Inc, later becoming Bloomin’ Brands. The Italian Grill began expanding when it was decided to open up a few locations in Florida, and then it went international in 2015 when a branch was opened in Brazil.
While Carrabba’s was expanding it was also making strategic closures as well. Out of 1,500 restaurants under Bloomin’ Brands, Carrabba’s is the only subsidiary that keeps closing branches due to underperformance issues.
Taco Bell Is No Longer The Whole Enchilada
What started off as a dream for a man working a hot dog stand turned into one of the most popular “Mexican” fast-food chains in America. Glen Bell opened the first Taco Bell in 1962, after watching the Mexican restaurant next to his stand make way more money than him. Bell’s first restaurant was actually named Taco Tia, basing his foods off of the neighboring Mexican stands.
As we all know, the name changed to Taco Bell, and the restaurant quickly expanded. Unfortunately, it has been announced that there will be some cutbacks in locations in 2020. Be sure to get another Cheetos Burrito before they’re all gone!
The Cheesecake Factory Stopped Paying Its Rent
In March 2020, the Cheesecake Factory’s chairman and CEO David Overton announced in an open letter to its landlord that the popular restaurant chain would not be able to pay rent at any of its 294 locations for the month of April. Within the same month, 27 locations closed its doors.
Employing 38,000 people, the Cheesecake Factory is one of the largest restaurant employers in America. Since the announcement, the Cheesecake Factory stock has fallen by more than 50 percent.
Olive Garden Profits Are Down By 60%
In March 2020, Dardent Restaurants, which owns the Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, and other casual dining restaurant chains, reported that their profits dropped as much as 60% compared to 2019 reports.
While Olive Garden’s customers enjoy the food, a major draw is the dining experience, which means take-out alone isn’t going to keep Olive Garden locations open. For now, Olive Garden restaurants are offering take-out only, while Dardent Restaurants executives hope profits improve in the upcoming months.
Boston Market Is Letting Go Of Their Homestyle Cooking
Once known as Boston Chicken, Boston Market has been a casual-dining family restaurant since its opening in 1984. The restaurant specializes in rotisserie chicken but also has fan favorites such as mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese on the menu. The chain is most common in the Northeast and Midwest of America, but because Sun Capital owns the chain, you can find branches down south in Florida, too.
As of 2013, around 462 stores have been opened, but that number has rapidly decreased throughout the years. Boston Market said that it was in the middle of a “multifaceted transformation plan,” explaining the extensive restaurant closures.
Steak ‘n Shake Is Turning Off Some Griddles
In 1934, the casual burger chain Steak ‘n Shake was founded by Gus Belt in Normal, Illinois. The most popular items, you guessed it, were steakburgers and hand-dipped milkshakes. In the beginning, the chain did very well, with restaurants throughout America, Southwest Europe, and the Middle East. Belt’s chain was eventually bought by the owner of Maxim magazine, Sardar Biglari.
Currently, the chain has 628 restaurants, 214 of which are franchised. Even with all of the locations, several dozen of the restaurants are going to be shut down temporarily until they can find a new partner to open them back up in 2020.
Perkins Family Restaurant And Bakery Is No Longer Perky
Perkins Family Restaurant and Bakery, formally known as Perkins Pancake House, was founded back in 1958 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The breakfast and bakery chain is located in 32 U.S. states and four provinces in Canada. The chain is owned by the company Marie Callender’s.
Unfortunately, the parent company filed for bankruptcy in August 2019, resulting in a mass of abrupt closures. The thing is, these closures were out of the blue, and neither staff nor customers knew it was happening until the restaurants had “out of business” on their doors. That move gave Perkins a lot of heat, and rightfully so.
Marie Callender’s Is Hanging In There, For The Time Being
Marie Callender’s was established by the one and only Marie Callender, who baked pies and cakes to help with her family bring in much-needed extra income. Her family lived in a trailer park at the time, but they took a risk and opened the restaurant. It was a success.
The chain went downhill in 2009, after Marie’s husband, Don, fell in their home and passed away from resulting head trauma. Since then, the restaurant has filed for bankruptcy multiple times and has closed down many of its locations. Luckily they were able to keep 28 of the stores open, for the time being.
Red Robin, YUUMMM!
The famous Red Robin burger chain was founded in Seattle, Washington, in 1969, with the first franchised restaurant opening just one year later. It’s no wonder the restaurant’s jingle became so wildly known, with 562 U.S. locations and a few in Canada, you’d be hard-pressed not to hear it on the radio or television.
Red Robin announced that it would be closing ten locations due to underperformance after one awful year — the net income dropped almost 90%. Right now, the company is rejecting the suggestions of investors to close down the company as a whole.
It Looks Like Burger King is No Longer The King
As one of the more notable fast-food chains around, it is curious as to why Burger King made the list. Founded in 1966 as “Insta-Burger King,” the Jacksonville, Florida, restaurant quickly gained a following. The burger place has a total of 17,800 restaurants operating around the United States.
Could it be the increase in health-food awareness and people counting calories? Whatever the reason, Burger King announced that they are going to be shutting down 200-250 underperforming restaurants. That’s 100-150 more than the previous year, which makes us think we are going to see BK go out of business in our lifetime.
O’Charley’s, My Charley’s
Another casual restaurant chain, O’Charley’s, has been struggling to remain open. With around 200 locations throughout 17 states in the south and midwest, the restaurant has announced that it would be closing down some of its stores. They went as far as closing eight locations in one day and taking away the sole restaurant in Florida.
Fidelity National is said to be acquiring “what’s left” of O’Charley’s. Still, it is yet to be seen whether or not the company is going to try and revamp the restaurant or make it something else altogether. Hopefully, there will still be some “Good Food and Good Times.”
IHOP Is Hopping Out Of Business
IHOP, short for the International House of Pancakes, has been one of the go-to breakfast places for families since 1958. The pancake house was founded in Los Angeles, California, and the headquarters has since remained in the Golden State. This is somewhat ironic, considering California is one of the healthier states in the continental U.S.
Due to the rising number of people who are beginning to eat healthier and watch their calorie intake, IHOP is getting hit hard. Their customer base is minimizing and business is slowing due to the “unhealthy” menu. Owner Dine Brands said they were going to close as many as 40 locations.
If Applebee’s Closes, Where Will We Get $1 Drinks?
When a restaurant has dollar margarita days, you know something fishy is going on behind the scenes. Applebee’s has 1,830 locations throughout the U.S., Guam, Puerto Rico, and fifteen other countries. The restaurant tried to modernize itself to win over the new millennial generation, adding WiFi and tablets at every table. It backfired.
The older, long-time customers did not like the change and stopped bringing Applebee’s business. In addition, president Steven Layt resigned because he refused to relocate with the headquarters, and the “neighborhood grill” locations started to swiftly shut down. Maybe they should keep doing the dollar drink days.
Friendly’s Is Not Feeling Very Friendly Right Now
Founded in 1935 in Springfield, Massachusetts, Friendly’s is predominately an East Coast family-friendly restaurant. Right now, it has 167 locations up and down the Atlantic coast. The interesting fact about this chain is that it was founded during the Great Depression, and somehow it made it out alive.
Over the years the restaurant has been through a lot of changes, even declaring bankruptcy. But out of the bankruptcy ashes came a new vision and a new menu, but a plan to still close the stores that are not making money. It will be interesting to see which stores are standing by the end of 2020.
Ruby Tuesday Is Looking Forward To The Weekend
Like Friendly’s, Ruby Tuesday is an East Coast chain, but this restaurant has some branches on the Pacific Coast, too. The restaurant was founded in 1972 in Knoxville, Tennessee, and has seen some major dips in revenue over the past few years. Which, unfortunately, has resulted in many of the restaurants closing.
At last count, the chain has around 491 stores around the world. But according to Restaurant Business, that number is due to nearly 50% of the stores closing over the past ten years. They said it was because customers were enjoying the convenience of take-out instead of actually sitting down in a restaurant.
T.G.I. Friday’s Is No Longer Thanking Goodness It’s Friday
Known for its red-and-white soccer shirt clad employees, T.G.I. Friday’s was founded in 1965 by Daniel Scoggin and Alan Stillman. The casual dining restaurant has 870 locations set up around the world, everywhere except for sub-Saharan Africa. Needless to say, the family restaurant did alright for itself!
In recent years T.G.I.F. has tried to revamp its menu back to its singles-bar roots instead of the casual-dining it is now known for. Unfortunately, the change did not come quickly enough for some of the locations, and management announced that it is going to be closing in underperforming areas throughout 2019 and 2020.
Carl’s Jr. Kept Quiet For Long Enough
In 1941, Carl’s Jr. started off as a hot dog cart before becoming a full-fledged restaurant a few years later. The owners, Carl Karcher, and his wife have been able to sustain the restaurant over time, opening a total of 1,490 locations worldwide, operating in 44 states, 38 countries, and several US territories.
That doesn’t mean they’re not susceptible to store closures. Even though the public doesn’t hear about it, Carl’s Jr. closes a few stores each year. We’re not sure why they don’t make an announcement, but we hope it’s just because of income issues and not a bad health inspection grade.
Quiznos Sub’s First Store Might Be Closing Soon
Quiznos is a fast-food chain that focuses solely on sub sandwiches. It was founded in 1981 by Jimmy Lambatos and sold to Rick and Richard Schaden ten years later, growing to nearly 5,000 stores after the fact. However, as of June 2018, the number of stores has decreased substantially — there are only 800 locations left.
The company filed for bankruptcy in 2014, saying that they were still going to operate while they worked on their debt and made operational improvements. They were able to decrease their debt to $400 million and then decided to sell to the California-based company High Bluff Capital.
Kona Grill Was An Interesting Choice For An Arizona Restaurant
First off, a sushi restaurant chain founded in Scottsdale, Arizona, is most likely destined for failure. Although the chain has been struggling since its opening in 1998, Kona grill was able to get 40 stores up and running in both the U.S. and Puerto Rico plus some international locations.
Kona Grill filed for bankruptcy in the spring of 2019 and announced that they are seeking a merger. Once the bankruptcy petition was filed, it was also announced that the CEO of the Kona Grill is considering leaving the company. Way to leave when things get a little tough!
Hometown Buffet Should Have Kept To Itself
At its peak, the buffet-style restaurant HomeTown Buffet had more than 250 stores throughout the U.S. Founded by C. Dennis Scott in 1989, the restaurant was a family favorite for many years. In 2008, they filed for bankruptcy.
Even though they kept operating during that time, 52 stores nationwide immediately shut down as a result. The chain was recently bought by Food Management, after running as a solo company for 28 years. HomeTown Buffet felt a massive hit with the new management, going from 250 stores to 33 in 2019, and it is most likely that more branches will be closing in the coming year.
Fuddruckers, The World’s Greatest Burger
Aside from grinding their own meat and baking buns on-site, Fuddruckers is known for their thick and creamy milkshakes. The restaurant had 11 franchises and 77 company-operating branches in the U.S. Not too bad for a burger place! Unfortunately, like a lot of restaurants, the 2008 financial crisis hit Fuddruckers hard, and in 2010, they filed for bankruptcy.
Management believes that closing down various locations will help increase their profits. As long as they don’t change their menu, we’re sure the general public will be okay with one or two stores shutting down…maybe.
Luby’s Is Heading Back To 2009
Luby’s is an old-school cafeteria-style restaurant that was founded in 1947 in San Antonio, Texas. Bob Luby and his son originally opened a restaurant called New England Dairy Lunch, but Bob quickly expanded to Luby’s. The cafeteria-style was immensely popular, and the chain quickly put up 83 chains throughout the Houston area.
Like some of the other stores on this list, 2009 brought a bit of a rough patch. Luby’s shut down 25 stores and laid off staff as a cost-cutting measure. It worked, and the chain made $6.6 million in profit. Unfortunately, it looks like they’re going to try the same strategy in the coming years.
Tim Hortons Might Have A Secret
Tim Hortons is the largest fast-food chain in Canada. It was founded by a Canadian hockey player, Tim Horton, and his business partner Jim Charade. Of course, Tim Horton from Canada played hockey. What started off as a hamburger venture quickly turned into a coffee and donut shop instead.
It was very successful and the two were able to open 4,848 stores all over the world, making the restaurant a multi-billion dollar enterprise. Unfortunately, stores have been shutting down due to underperformance. Most recently, the company shut down four Tim Horton stores in Dayton, Ohio very abruptly. Maybe there is something going on that the owners aren’t telling the public?
McCormick & Schmick’s Is Swimming Away
McCormick & Schmick’s is a seafood restaurant that was founded in 1979 by Douglas Schmick and Bill McCormick and is owned by the parent company, Landrys, Inc. The American chain started off in Portland, Oregon, but quickly expanded throughout the country and Canada. Unfortunately, that little parent company is responsible for closing about half of the business branches, with more coming in 2020.
Right now, there are about 40 locations up and running, in addition to five in Canada. The revenue, net income, assets, and equity have all plummeted. It doesn’t sound like this restaurant is going to be around for much longer.
Roy Rogers Is Dwindling Fast
Named after the famous old western actor, Roy Rogers, the fast-food burger chain is a staple in the American Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. If you’re old enough, you might know Roy Rogers as RoBee’s House of Beef, that is, until it was bought out by the Marriott Corporation in 1968. The hotel chain used the name Roy Rogers for the first time that year.
Not sure how the public was going to take the re-branding, Marriott went with a very aggressive sales campaign. It worked, quickly drawing in customers. At its peak, Roy Rogers had around 600 branches, but recent years haven’t been too kind. They are down to 48.
Long Live The Hut
You may remember going to Pizza Hut on a first date, or going there after a soccer game and ordering way too many pies, breadsticks, and pitchers of Pepsi. Talk about a stomach ache that was well worth it. We hate to say it, but the Hut you remember is soon going to be nothing but a distant memory.
The chain has decided that it is going to get out of the sit-down restaurant business and strictly become a carryout and delivery store. What does that mean for the public? The stores are going to go from 7,450 to around 7,000.
Subway, Eat Fresh No More
Subway started off as the “healthy” fast-food option for people on the go. But with the calorie-counting health-food craze they are no longer the first option for people. In 2016, the chain ended up closing more stores than it was opening — 359 more. That’s not to say there still aren’t thousands of stores all over the country, but the chain did continue to struggle in the coming years, closing more than 2,000 stores.
With the numbers rising each year is it possible that we will see another thousand stores disappear come 2020? Hopefully, someone has an idea on how to win back customers.
Baby Back Baby Back Baby Back
With restaurants like Applebee’s and T.G.I.F struggling to stay afloat, it’s no surprise that Chili’s is, too. In 2017, Chili’s stock plummeted a whopping 40%, not a very good metric in any business but especially not in the cut-throat restaurant industry. With that number came menu rebranding and other various promotions, including a loyalty program.
Ironically, instead of increasing their profits, that program began to eat into them. In hopes to come out on top, they decided to cut their menu options in half to simplify their kitchen operations, and also launch an aggressive marketing campaign to get people through the door.
If Buffalo Wild Wings closes, where are we supposed to go to get wings on game days? Of course, the former CEO has some choice words to say about why Buffalo Wild Wings hasn’t been doing too hot in recent years, saying, “Millennial consumers are more attracted than their elders to cooking at home, ordering delivery from restaurants, and eating quickly, in fast-casual or quick-serve restaurants.”
Strange. Regardless, board members have been in a frenzy trying to figure out a way to keep the chain running. Recently, Arby’s purchased the chain for $2.9 billion. Who knows what’s going to come next!
Hooters Was Initially A Joke
In the world of “men pleasing” restaurants, Hooters was definitely a trailblazer. It was the first of its kind and what it lacked in food quality they sure made up for in waitress showmanship. Funnily enough, the owners decided to open the first restaurant on April Fools’ day because they were certain the idea was going to fail. Insert eye-roll here.
Recently, the chain has not been doing too well, and it is for a very similar reason as B Dubs. There is stiff competition in the sit-down, casual dining market. Perhaps their new idea, a fast-food chain called Hoots, will help win over customers.
Souplantation And Sweet Tomatoes
Souplantation is an all-you-can-eat buffet-style restaurant that was founded in 1978 in San Diego, California. Although very popular in Southern California, Sweet Tomatoes, as it’s known outside of the state, did not do too well on a national level. They sold all of their assets to a private investment firm at the beginning of 2017, a move that was part of a bankruptcy reconstruction plan.
They now operate less than 100 stores, having had to close 20-030 restaurants in Kansas, Utah, Illinois, and Dallas. In spite of their “failure,” the chain will most likely stay in business in Southern California, where it started.
What Will We Do Without Bloomin’ Onions?
Unfortunately, if you feel like consuming a bomb of deep-fried onion with a creamy dipping sauce you’re going to having to do it in the comfort of your own kitchen. Outback Steakhouse has also been feeling the sting lately. Bloomin’ Brands, the company that owns Outback, saw an 8% dip in their stocks in 2017, signaling an inevitable dip in diners.
CEO Elizabeth Smith said something similar to former B Dubs CEO, the market is very competitive right now and people are more prone to preparing their meals at home because it’s more economically friendly. The company sold 53 corporate-owned locations as well as closed 13 locations.
Comfort Foods Aren’t Really “In,” Right Now
Nothing says fast-food like American comfort food — mac and cheese and fried chicken, anyone? Bob Evans was founded in 1946 ion New Albany, Ohio, by none other than Bob Evans. The chain was a success, having around 500 locations over 15 states, mainly the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic.
Unfortunately, their downfall started in 2017 when they had to close down 27 stores due to underperformance, including some in its native Ohio. They sold the remainder of the locations to Golden Gate Capital, in hopes that the new owners would be able to bring in more customers. Hopefully, the new menus and fresher ingredients will do the trick!
Noooodddssss & Company
The concept of Noodle’s & Company is thanks to a marketing director, who in 1995 thought it was a good idea to have a restaurant that caters to one thing — a ridiculous assortment of noodle dishes. From barbecue pork mac to spicy Korean beef noodles, the Colorado-based fast-food chain has pretty much any noodle dish one could hope for.
Recent years haven’t been too kind. They lost a reported $71.7 million in 2016, including $10.6 million for claims related to a data breach. In 2017, the chain closed around 39 out of a proposed 55 stores, while opening 14 to 17 new locations.
Joe’s Crab Shack Is Going To Get A Bad Rap
For a restaurant that sounds like it’s out of a Disney movie, you think they’d have a bit more of a conscious when it comes to their employees. Unfortunately, that is not the case for Joe’s Crab Shack. In August 2017, the restaurant abruptly shut down 41 of its 112 locations after their parent company, Ignite Restaurant Group, filed for bankruptcy.
What does that have to do with the employees? The workers showed up only to see that the doors were locked and there was a sign saying their services were no longer needed. If you want people to speak highly of your restaurant, this isn’t the way to do things.
As My Brother Calls It, DOBA!
The United States has no shortage of fast-food burrito joints (please see Chipotle, Baja Fresh, and Freebirds), but there is one that hasn’t been doing too hot in recent years. Qdoba started in Denver back in 1955, having its work cut out for them to steal away the lunch crowds from other fast-food stores.
The chain had to cut 67 locations in 2013, but as of 2017, 729 locations were in operation. Maybe their queso game got a bit stronger? A few years ago, the company also decided on a name rebrand, going with “Qdoba Mexican Eats” instead of “Mexican Grill.” Not sure if that helped or not?
Pollo Tropical Couldn’t Keep The Fiesta Going
If you haven’t heard of it, Pollo Tropical is a Caribbean-inspired fast-food joint based in Miami. The chain has been serving up fried plantains and spiced pork since 1988 but has struggled to get people to jump on board with the different Latin flavors.
Things started to slip in 2016 when it was announced that they lost $4.5 million in a quarter. The next year they began shutting down locations in Austin and the Dallas/Fort Worth area, eventually, there were no more stores in Texas. for now, the company still operates 140 US locations, but they are restricted to Florida and the greater Atlantic area.
Wait, but what are we going to do without the Pizookie cookie? The people need their hot treat with a mountain of ice cream! Alas, BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse’s stock has plummeted 25%, which is not good for any of us who enjoy some pizza and craft beer.
In recent years, when it comes to the numbers, nothing has been looking too good for the chain. According to the Los Angeles Times, in-store sales declined 1.4% in the first half of 2018. While that might not sound like much, in a time when restaurants need to whatever it takes to gain diners, it’s a huge blow.
Papa Murphy’s Is A Sinking Ship
Any pizza place that is founded in Washington State is going to go downhill eventually. Papa Murphy’s was founded in 1995 as a merger between Papa Aldo’s Pizza and Murphy’s Pizza. Ergo the name, Papa Murphy’s. Unfortunately, that’s all the good news because nothing seems to be going right for this pizza joint.
Same-store sales dipped by 4% in the first quarter of 2018, 9% over the past two-years. Not to mention that the company saw a major dip in revenue — $5 million. According to Seeking Alpha, “Papa Murphy’s is a rudderless sinking ship.” Yikes, that is not something you want to hear about your restaurant.
Chipotle Is Trying To Climb Out Of The Hole They Dug
When it comes to Mexican fast-food chains, Chipotle is a fan favorite. Unfortunately, customers had to look for queso and burritos elsewhere, because this chain went through many food scares since its founding in 1993. An E.coli outbreak was enough to lose a large majority of customers. Chipotle is ruthless and is still trying to win their trust back.
The company has since been trying to reconstruct their image, something that is costing them about $135 million. We hope the avocado tostadas work out for them. They are also working on a loyalty program, ordering application, and happy hour discounts. Good luck, Chipotle.
Papa John Might Have Sunk His Own Restaurant
Papa John’s has long been a pizza fan’s go-to restaurant when they wanted a consistently good pie. But then its CEO John Schnatter, Papa John himself, had some PR issues that just kept getting worse. In November of 2017, he remarked to analysts that the NFL protests were hurting sales. When word got out about that, sales really tanked. And then word got out that he’d used an offensive slur during a conference call.
Schnatter was removed as CEO and as chairman of the board, but the company continued to struggle and closed 51 stores in 2018. Only time will tell whether they’ll be able to recover.